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Mailbag: Changes To Roster Rules? Neal At S?

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For a team with so little resources put into the safety position and a stacked linebacker group, why are we paying Keanu Neal to move to linebacker? I would be perfectly happy with LVE, Parsons, Smith, Cox as our starting LBs. Is Keanu Neal more valuable as a safety? — AMOS LONGSTREET / ROSEVILLE, CA

David: I've got to be honest, I was pretty shocked when word came down that Neal would be playing linebacker. For all the reasons you just listed, it does seem like it'd make sense to have him working at safety. Having said that, the defensive coordinator has worked with Neal for five years and should have a clear idea of his strengths and weaknesses. I don't have a problem trusting Dan Quinn that this is a good idea. Although I do worry about the depth of the safety spot.

Rob: Don't forget another ex-Falcon who played for Quinn, Damontae Kazee, was brought in to be more of a cover safety. Kazee and Donovan Wilson could be a solid combo. With Neal at linebacker, seems like Quinn is looking to add speed to the position and a sure tackler who presumably can help shore things up against the run. Look at how Dallas drafted — that's by far the biggest priority. Plus, last year we saw the Cowboys essentially drop safeties down as linebackers in certain packages, so it's not a brand-new concept.

The Cowboys had several injuries last year. While players are showing resilience in recovery, do you believe there will be a call to expand roster further than the COVID allowance? — CARL DORSEY / BUFFALO, TX

David: Nothing has been made official yet, but there have been several reports that the league is considering keeping several of its modified roster rules from 2020. I'm firmly in favor of that. It always seemed dumb that a sport with so many injuries had such big limitations on who could come back from injured reserve, and how quickly that could happen. And the expanded practice squad was clearly beneficial for everyone – teams and players. We may have to wait a bit to see what the league decides, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that we'll see several of those changes kept moving forward.

Rob: NFL Network said yesterday that last year's IR return rules and 16-man practice squads will probably stay in place, so it wouldn't surprise me if the 55-man game day roster did, too. We're still in a pandemic and COVID cases are still a possibility, even though things (thankfully) are looking up. Makes sense to roll over those rules for at least another year

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